In the two games of rugby league played last night it was the clubs from north of the border that asserted themselves in strong showings over quality opposition to move to the top of the NRL ladder.
Brisbane vs Penrith
At the start of the season their was conflicting arguments about how the Broncos would perform with the loss of their long time mentor Wayne Bennett. Many insisted there would be a slump, others stated that there is too much quality in the team for this to be the case.
Their loss to Bennett’s Dragons further fuelled this debate, but so far that has been their only loss this season and their victory over Penrith last night, while far from convincing, was enough to show they will be contenders this year.
Early on they showed their attacking flair as they jumped out to a 24-6 lead at the end of the first half and looked for all money like they would rack up a big win.
Penrith had other plans and hit back hard in the second half to score two tries and claw their way to within 6 points of a suddenly fragile Broncos outfit. While Brisbane managed to regain their composure and finish with two late tries to claim victory 38-18, there were worrying signs that will need to be addressed.
Closing out teams in the second half would be the chief among these, and coach Ivan Henjak admitted as much himself after the match.
“It’s always a concern when you let teams back in” Henjak said “We know what’s going wrong, we just need to find a solution to it, I thought we addressed (the problem), but we haven’t fixed it yet obviously”
The Broncos will be hoping to have this sorted before the rep season begins, where the loss of manpower has traditionally hit them harder than any other team in the competition.
Gold Coast vs Canberra
The second game of the night saw the Titans and the Raiders involved in a keenly fought match with the Titans only managing to break the deadlock minutes before the final whistle with a try that saw them win 16-10.
The standout performer of the night was Titans halfback Scott Prince whose form has been improving exponentially, and last nights game was probably enough to see him installed as favourite to wear the number seven jumper in the upcoming test match against the World Champion Kiwi’s.
It is interesting to look at what the Titans have achieved so far this season and the players they have that are fuelling this success. Old hands like Preston Campbell, Luke Bailey and Mat Rogers are showing great form as is Chris Walker, the former magnet for trouble who is showing a much more level head on the field.
These players along with Scott Prince and Nathan Friend are leading the way for their younger, less experienced team mates and they are currently seeing the fruits of that with their position at the top of the table.
What is even more impressive about their start to the 2009 season is the quality of their opposition in the first 6 rounds which has included wins over the Knights, Bulldogs and Storm as well as a narrow loss away to the Dragons.
Far from having a lucky start to their season, the Titans are looking more and more every game like a club that will be right there in September fighting it out for a Grand Final berth. Their odds are shortening to take the title and are currently at around $12.50.
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